I am snooping around the city for my supply of Indian and Pakistani mangoes, like a crazed version of an only slightly less bonkers self. Every store I go to, they’re sold out. These chaps are the Imelda May of mangos – perfumed and honeyed with inimitable attitude. Intoxicating stuff.
Generally, Pakistani and Indian mangos arrive on our shores ready to eat, as opposed to the solid Brazilian Kents that assault our supermarkets. The Alphonsoes in particular are cheaper, sweeter and jellier than any other mango I’ve tasted – you’ll need to sit in a bath tub just to eat one. Licky-sticky-yummy. Admittedly, they are quite the adventure to find. Your best bet is in a local Asian grocer or Halal store.
Although mangos are high in natural sugars – 30g on average – they service our system too. Good news for sugar junkies. Expect to get a shot of beta-carotene, zinc and vitamin C with each mango session. These particular nutrients are associated with luminous skin, without the price tag of La Prairie.
And get this. Mangoes are a surprisingly good source of vitamin B6. This vitamin helps our brain manufacture happy hormones called serotonin. Fist. Bump.
Feta – sheep’s and goat’s milk
Feta is practically giddy with calcium. This is the mineral responsible for sturdy bones and radical dance moves. Now that we know calcium-supplementation can carry some negative side effects (such as contracting artery walls), it might be wise sourcing calcium from our diet rather than relying on pill-popping.
If you’re not mad on feta, Irish goat’s cheese is unreasonably delicious. We have a special temple built for Bluebell Falls and Ardsallagh goat’s cheese in our fridge. It’s a brilliant vehicle for Green Leafy Veg, especially with toddlers, husbands and other contrarians. I’ve rapidly learned that if I put goat’s cheese on (insert healthy food here), all manner of boy will eat it.
Goat’s milk and sheep’s milk has a particular pH level that seems to excite ‘alkaline’ eaters such as Sienna Miller, Victoria Beckham and Robbie Williams. The Alkaline Diet is a scorching trend among the gorgeous brigade of London and New York. Apparently, alkaline foods help with the absorption of calcium from our foods. These include all fruit, veg, millet, and sprouted nuts, seeds and beans. On the opposing side sits acidic foods – beer, meat, chocolate, bread. Advocates believe that acidic foods interfere with the proper absorption of calcium.
Interested? Check out The Honestly Healthy Cookbook penned by Sienna Miller’s stepsister Natasha Corrett. It’s good. You’ll need to resuscitate that roll of litmus paper from biology class. And that day-glow exercise leotard. Good luck!
Chilled Mango & Egyptian Gibna
Gibna is a soft, white, salty cheese similar to feta but distinct to Egypt. It may not sound terribly exciting, but your veins will think otherwise. Chilli revs up your heart rate and metabolism, and helps release a cavalry of feel-good endorphins.
Socialise it with some licky sticky mangoes to experience alarming amounts of pleasure.
2 very ripe mangoes
200g gibna beyda or feta cheese (there’s a cracking recipe for pine nut ricotta on page 111 of my cookbook for vegan pals)
1 teaspoon lime juice
4 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6-8 medjool dates, stoned and chopped
Large handful of fresh mint leaves
Freshly cracked black pepper
De-stone each mango. To do this, cut the cheeks from each side of the stone. Slice these into strips, like melon, removing the leathery skin with a sharp knife. Try salvaging as much flesh from the stone as possible, but we usually resort to sucking this while we read the remainder of the recipe.
Arrange the mango slices on a breadboard, and leave to chill in the fridge.
Using a fork, mash the cheese into your lime, tahini, olive oil and cayenne pepper. Finely chop the medjools and mint leaves. Let them loose with the crushed feta. It won’t need salt, but a few cracks of the black pepper mill will bring it up an octave.
Taste, and add more chilli or mint to suit your mood. Serve in a small bowl beside lashings of fragrant mangoes and flat bread.
Courgette is here with its own range of kitchen appliances.
That’s right. Sales of spiralisers in Dublin are tailing sales of teapots. To the tea drinkers of Ireland, this might constitute a national threat.
Spiralisers are those dinky kitchen gadgets that can twist and turn a courgette into glorious ribbons of vegetable spaghetti. Courgetti, to be precise.
Carrots work beautifully too. Tumble in some spicy olive oil to your spiralised carrot, add some fresh parsley and lemon, and you have yourself a carrot noodle dish in less than 60 seconds. Italians in LA came up with the ingenious concept of spiralisers. (Of course they did).
Courgettes are not a sexy veg. This is why they’re called zucchinis in America.
These svelte green veggies are a type of summer squash. We’re probably more familiar with the sweeter, carbalicious winter squash, such as butternut. The zucchini is lighter and less fibrous than its wintry cousins (maybe that’s why it rhymes with bikini). But both varieties are rich in vitamin C. Our bodies need vitamin C for luminous skin. No wonder the Hemsley sisters are horsing into courgetti every day. They’ve even started manufacturing their own line of spiralisers. Smart girls.
Harissa is a spicy North African paste guaranteed to send your blood beating like a bodhrán. This version is designed to oil those squeaky knees and rusty wrists. It marries chilli pepper with omega-rich hemp seed oil to help reduce inflammation and pain. Food scientists have found that capsaicin, a compound found in chilli peppers, encourages the body to release its natural painkillers and stress-busting endorphins. So by all means, feel free to use more chillis than stated. Let your body levitate.
While hemp oil sounds like a member of the narcotic squad, don’t get too excited. It’s not. Unlike olive oil, hemp seed oil is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids (psst, don’t fry with it!) Omega-3 enables our bodies to manufacture lots of good prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances involved in refereeing inflammation in the body. Inflammation is not confined to Sunday morning hangovers. It also covers bronchitis, arthritis, eczema, asthma, sprains and large egos.
This harissa keeps in the fridge for at least one week provided you hide it behind the stinky cheeses away from thieving mitts. Otherwise, expect it to last sixty seconds. Seriously good barbecue fodder and all-round friend.
3-4 red peppers
Splash EV olive oil
6 red chillis
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, ground
1 tablespoon caraway seeds, ground
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons EV hemp seed oil or olive oil
Slice the peppers into chunks, discarding the inner white film, stalk and seeds. Toss on a baking tray with a splash of olive oil and roast for 30 minutes at 180 degrees.
While the peppers cook, get going on the remaining ingredients. Using disposable gloves – if you have nappies to change later you’ll burn the bejaysus out of your nipper’s bottom – cut the chillis down the side and scoop out the seeds and pith with a teaspoon. Discard. Or rub on husband’s toothbrush if he hasn’t taken out the bins.
Blitz the chillis with the herbs, salt, garlic and tomato until it forms a smooth paste. Toasting the seeds on dry heat, or even frying on a hot pan with a lick of oilve oil helps bring out their bewitching aromas. Not necessary though – it will still taste amazeballs.
Now, and no sooner, add the roasted red pepper and vinegar. Pulverise to your satisfaction. Stir through hemp seed oil and scoop into your serving dish. Avoid adding the hemp seed oil while pulverising the former ingredients or the harissa will turn pink. And no one will eat it, even if it sounds mildly illicit.